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8th August 2023 (7 Topics)

Neither the right to privacy nor the right to information


The DPDP Bill 2023, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha recently, is an outcome of the debate around the ‘right to privacy’.

Tussle between Rights

  • Personal data made vulnerable- There are some tensions between the right to information and the right to privacy.It makes the citizens personal data vulnerable in the name of transparency and the new bill doesn’t resolve these questions.
  • Definition made broad and vague- The bill defines “lawful purposes” in the broadest possible manner as “any purpose which is not expressly forbidden by the law”.
  • Privileges to the Central Government- It allows the central government to ask the Board, data ?duciary or others to “furnish such information as it may call for”.It makes our data fair game for both government and private entities.

Undermining the Right to Information

  • RTI Act -Section 8(1)(j) grants exemption from disclosure if the information which relates to personal information sought “has no relationship to any public activity or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual”.
  • Diluting the RTI’s section- The DPDP Bill 2023 suggests replacing Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act with just “information which relates to personal information”.
  • It’s Impact- The current requirement for public servants to disclose their immovable assets will likely be o? limits. This is indeed “information related to personal information”, but it serves a larger public interest.

Other Shortcomings

  • Government Intervention-The Data Protection Board, an oversight body will be under the boot of the government as the chairperson and members are to be appointed by the central government.
  • Difficulty in seeking legal help- A weak board combined with the lack of universal literacy mean that the chances that citizens will be able to seek legal recourse when privacy harms are in?icted on them are slim.
  • Right to privacy at stake- DPDP Bill 2023 ends up undermining our right to information, without doing much to protect our right to privacy.
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